By now you should have heard about Awesome Mix Vol. 1 from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie hitting the number 1 spot on the billboard charts for the month of August.
By and far, this should not have been so significant, but this is a mixtape solely made up of hits from the 60’s and 70’s – a time when most of Guardians’ audiences existed in the form of spermatozoa, swimming around in a scrotum cupped tightly by bell bottomed jeans. Because I cannot help shoving my opinions in your face everytime pop-culture awesomeness is mentioned, here is my top 5 pop music movie soundtracks of all time in no particular order of awesomeness. (Which means that this list excludes ALL Disney, Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman music)
The Crow (1994)
Released in 1994, the goth(ic) revenge-thriller was also known for being the one in which Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) was accidentally shot dead on set. Tragedy aside, the film was both a commercial success and has achieved cult status today- a rare combination as cult status is usually reserved for commercial flops that were ‘quirky and of kilter’. Reflecting the nascent days of American goth and industrial rock, the dark brooding tone of the movie was made possible by contributions from bands like The Cure and The Jesus and Mary Chain. This was not the kitschy-shock rock of Alice Cooper, this was the kind of music that worried your mom when you sulked in your room while listening to it on repeat. The soundtrack sweeps the whole gamut for emotion, with the frantic, sneering industrial-techno of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult scoring chaotic fights scenes to a soaring, hopeful end by Jane Siberry (It Can’t Rain all the Time). This is the movie Marilyn Manson watches for inspiration when the goth-shlock well runs dry.
With its ‘look at me I’m so quirky’ titular character and indie soundtrack, Juno was every indie kid’s favorite movie back in 2008. Which despite my cynicism, doesn’t really discount the fact that the songs were all well-chosen and disarmingly endearing. Despite the general derision for hipsters, the music actually makes the movie kinda cute. The soundtrack is the mixtape you wished you made for your first girlfriend, serenading her with indie-folk whimsy like The Mouldy Peaches and Belle and Sebastian while maintaining cool-cred by throwing in Sonic Youth’s heart-wrenching cover of The Carpenter’s ‘superstar’. The movie and it’s soundtrack are probably responsible for 75% of tinted Polaroids every Gen-Yer’s has ever taken.
24 Hour Party People (2002)
The movie about the music scene in Manchester and Factory Records, which taking into account the role dance music has in today’s pop culture, makes this the most important film on everything labelled EDM- making it the Old Testament for Rave culture and all that worship the 4/4 beat. From punk-rock (Sex Pistols, The Clash) to new wave (New Order) to acid house (A Guy Called Gerald, Marshall Jefferson), this is the musical history of smashing your sweaty body into strangers’ in barely-lit rooms. Joy Division’s ‘atmosphere’ as a funeral dirge for Ian Curtis and members of Happy Mondays poisoning thousands of pigeons on an apartment rooftop complete the mythology.
Almost Famous (2000)
Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical movie about a young journalist who falls in love and finds himself while on on the road writing about a fictional rock band Stillwater. Set during the peak of Keith Moon-esque rock star insanity, the movie made available to a whole new generation the magic of rock n’ roll. Covering all the bases in classic rock, the soundtrack features songs from Simon & Garfunkle, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Elton John and Cat Stevens to name a few. It is equal parts tribute to nostalgia and gift to starry-eyed youths with amazing live covers of The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m waiting for the man’ by David Bowie and ‘One Way Out’ by the Allman Brothers Band.
High Fidelity (20000)
The movie based on a book about a record store owner cum music-snob making “top-five” lists with his music-snob associates. Did you really think I’d leave out the chance to be this meta? Also, the fact that the screenwriters listened to over 2000 songs in order to curate the soundtrack should speak for something. Bands you never heard of and unknown tracks from bands you think you know- buy the original vinyls for that delicious, delicious sense of superiority. The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and The Kinks make up the legends, while still leaving room for new(er) groundbreakers like Stereolab and Royal Trux. Also, Jack Black’s surprisingly decent cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Lets get it on’ to remind you that too cool for school record geeks are also human.
Image credits: Hollywood, Marvel Music